The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 31, 2012

Wyoming congregation moves into new church

By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief

— Damon Vest Jr., known as Junior to his friends, has worked at a variety of jobs since he’s been old enough to work.

“I’ve done a little bit of everything,” he explained. “Dad taught us the value of a dollar.”

He also worked in the summer work program during high school.

Vest has worked at Pineville Furniture for nearly 20 years.

“Luther Halsey hired me part-time,” he said.

Luther Halsey has since passed away and the store is now owned by his son, Jeff.

Additionally, Vest is the pastor of Marianna Freewill Baptist Church. He and his wife, Nichole, have two daughters.

Though Vest calls Pineville home, he was born in New York. His parents returned to Raleigh County, then moved to Pineville when Vest was 10 years old.

“This is home,” he emphasized.

During his time as pastor of the Marianna church, Vest has supervised the construction of a new church and moving the congregation.

A nearby coal company bought the property and building, and built the congregation a new church, away from the coal operations. The old church had served the congregation since 1942.

“It’s really a nice place to worship,” he said of the new building. “And, everything is paid for.”

Vest was concerned the new building wouldn’t have the same feel as the former church.

“It was amazing,” he said, “to step out of one church into the new one and feel like you’re right back at home.

“The feeling is still there. It’s home.”

Vest wants to see the church, as well as the community, grow.

“We have really good people there, and a lot of them have been going to the church longer than me.”

Vest also gives time to the Wyoming County Toy Fund throughout the year.

“We didn’t have a lot growing up,” he said, adding his family made use of the toy giveaways at the time.

“I was the oldest, so I had to go and help get toys for the younger ones,” he explained.

Vest emphasized he’s never forgotten how that helped his family.

“It’s all about the children,” he said of his work with the Wyoming County Toy Fund. “To see the look on their faces ...”

He’s met some “great people” over the eight years he’s been involved with the community project.

“I’ll take toys all year long and make sure they get to the Toy Fund,” he said. “It’s not about a time or date.

“We have people from the Boy Scouts, church groups, Girl Scouts who come and help, and donate toys.

“People like that — and the children (served) — are what makes it all worthwhile.”

— E-mail: mcbrooks@register-herald.com